Clumping Cat Litter Without Sodium Bentonite! Debunking Myths

By Davis Wilkins •  Updated: 05/07/22 •  11 min read
Lumps of clay

Are you familiar with clumping cat litter without sodium bentonite?

I like it!

Litter training your cat can save you a lot of hassle and money.

Clumping litter allows cat owners to easily scoop out the solid waste from the litter box, which saves time and money on litter and cleaning supplies.

There is one ingredient that is typically found in clumping litter that many cat experts agree is not safe for your animal.

The ingredient I am talking about is sodium bentonite, also known as Bentonite clay or Sodium Montmorillonite clay.

Clumping litter without sodium bentonite is something that we have not heard of until recently.

There are many types of clumping cat litters available, each with a special cat-owner benefit.

The most popular among these is the clumping type that comes without sodium bentonite as one of its ingredients.

I was discussing with my friend about clumping cat litter the other day.

We were trying to figure out if there are any differences between clumping cat litter made without sodium bentonite and the ones that do include it.

It’s really hard though to find a quality clumping litter without using sodium bentonite.

Both of us were surprised by what we found, so I decided to write this blog post.

Natural and Alternative Non-Toxic Cat Litters

Natural and alternative eco-friendly cat litters are made from:

  1. Recycled paper
  2. Plant-based materials such as wheat, corn, grass, alfalfa, and grain
  3. Wood
  4. Silica or crystal pellets
  5. Medicinal litters

Advantages of Natural and Alternative Litters:

  1. They are commonly more costly than clumping and non-clumping clay litters.
  2. They come in pellet, drop, and granule structures and are made of an assortment of substances.
  3. They will in general retain dampness and control scents superior to dirt.
  4. Most are biodegradable, contain no synthetic added substances, produce less residue, and cause almost no tracking.
  5. Most types, as indicated by makers, can be flushed or composted (even though this is not a good idea due to the danger of spreading parasites and maladies).

Disadvantages of Natural and Alternative Litters:

  1. Those that are ground into chips and granules are more delicate and light on the surface than conventional mud litter. This interests in felines tend to cause tracking.
  2. The other issue concerns the size of certain litters, which are produced using substances that are squeezed into pellets. Research has demonstrated that felines lean toward fine litter that feels like earth or sand under their paws, and albeit bigger pellets tend to eliminate tracking, some cats prefer not to utilize them.

Got time? Here’s an in-depth breakdown of the best natural clumping cat litter.

Eco-friendly clumping litter without sodium bentonite

1.     Paper cat litter:

This is produced using reused paper or newspaper and comes in either pellets or little pieces—some so little that they closely resemble traditional clay.

These two are both lightweight and can be flushed down the toilet in little amounts.

Paper litters are said to be up to 300 percent spongier than some clay litter.

As the pellets retain pee, they swell up to contain dampness and smell and form clumps that are easy to remove.


Yesterday’s News Unscented Clumping Paper Cat Litter

This is a clumping cat litter that is lightweight and made with recycled paper.



2.     Plant products cat litter:

They come in both clumping and non-clumping forms. The clumping eco biodegradable clumping cat litter without sodium bentonite includes corn, wheat, and walnut.

Benefits include:

Corn litter:

This is a soft cat litter that’s easy to scoop and clumps well. It’s soft on the sensitive paws but should be used only when the wounds have healed completely due to the clumping effect of the litter.

It has great odor control and maybe a little dusty hence tracking can occur.

Pro tip: Corn is a common target for aflatoxin mold growth and can be toxic to cats, hence most cat owners with cats with declawed paws will avoid using corn litter.
Arm & Hammer Litter Naturals Scented Clumping Corn Cat Litter

This is a lightly scented natural litter made from corn fibers.



Wheat Litter:

This is ideal for cats with sensitive paws.

This is biodegradable litter that’s natural and has clumping abilities due to the wheat starch.

The enzymes present in the wheat neutralize odors. It has low dust levels too but sticks on the cat’s paws causing tracking.

sWheat Scoop Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Wheat Cat Litter

This is a natural litter made from renewable wheat that contains natural enzymes that quickly neutralize ammonia odors.

It is 100% free from added perfumes, dyes, and toxic ingredients.



Grass Litter:

It has good clumping abilities and is biodegradable since it’s natural. It does a good job of controlling odors and is easy to scoop.

Almo Nature Unscented Clumping Plant-Based Grass Cat Litter

This grass cat litter is 100% natural and made from vegetable fibers.

The vegetable starch has fast clumping action and neutralizes odors quickly.



Molded colorful clay

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is sodium bentonite bad for cats?

Let’s face it, our environment is constantly at risk of pollution by all manner of waste that we emit. Cat litter is no exception and hence eco-friendly cat litter without sodium bentonite has been embraced by environmentally conscious cat owners.

These are cat litter made from natural products that are harmless even when your cats eat litter.

The most common and cheap available sodium bentonite cat litter in your favorite store is probably a clay-based clumping litter.

 This is great because of its super clumping ability and it can swell up to 15 times its original volume absorbing the cat poop and pee.

It makes scooping out the waste clumps easy and additional litter added without cleaning out the entire cat’s litter box. This makes it a favorite for many cat owners.

However, with time, these clay clumping litters which contain sodium bentonite and silica dust have been linked to upper respiratory infections in both cats and humans.

When your cats eat litter, it can cause gastrointestinal distress and even death in extreme cases.

Sodium bentonite clumping clay litter is dangerous, especially to kittens and aging cats. They ingest this toxic cat litter through inhalation and licking their paws.

Cats after using the litter box tend to have the bentonite clay clumping litter sticking to their paws.

They then proceed to lick their paw, ingesting the litter which cumulatively forms a hard lump in the stomach.

The body tries to self-cleanse by repeated bouts of diarrhea-causing wasting since the body isn’t absorbing nutrients during this time.

In extreme cases, this continues to the cat’s demise.

For these reasons, cheap becomes expensive and natural litter has quickly risen as an alternative.

They can even cost less in the long run, saving you lots of money on veterinarian medical fees.

These are:

Does Tidy cat litter contain sodium bentonite?

Yes, Tidy Cats does contain sodium bentonite.

Sodium bentonite is a chemical compound that has been used for more than 100 years in cat litter.

Tidy Clumping Cat Litter contains clays including sodium bentonite, which is a natural clay that swells and forms tight clumps when exposed to liquids, making cleanup for multiple cats easy and stress-free.

Bentonite absorbs water, which is why it gets so hard when it gets wet.

This ability to absorb water makes bentonite an excellent choice for cat litter because it absorbs your cat’s urine and forms a clump that is easy to scoop out.

Bentonite can absorb up to five times its weight, and most clumping litters contain between 80 percent and 99 percent bentonite.

Does Arm and Hammer cat litter contain sodium bentonite?

Yes, Arm and Hammer Cat Litter does contain sodium bentonite.

Sodium Bentonite is a naturally occurring clay material that can absorb 5 times its weight in liquids.

The clumping ability of sodium bentonite makes it one of the best materials for cat litter.

The high absorption rate of sodium bentonite allows it to draw up to 5 times its weight in liquid.

This means that any moisture within the cat litter will be absorbed, forming solid clumps and leaving the rest of the litter dry.

Is bentonite clay litter bad for cats?

The sodium bentonite used in litters is non-toxic and safe for cats.

It won’t irritate their paws or skin.

However, if your cat accidentally ingests a large amount of bentonite clay cat litter, it could lead to intestinal blockage.

The biggest concern with sodium bentonite clay cat litter is that it’s dusty.

The dust can irritate the lungs of some cats, causing problems like asthma and bronchitis.

The dust can also cause eye and skin irritation for cats who are sensitive to it.

Cats with respiratory or skin issues might need a different type of cat litter.

The main drawback to conventional clay cat litters is that they are “mined” from quarries.

They’re generally not recycled or biodegradable.

The dust they produce can also be harmful to humans and pets alike, so it’s important to use dust-free formulas whenever possible.

What is the best cat litter for heavy urination?

The best cat litter for heavy urination is going to be highly absorbent, contains a clumping agent, and is low dust.

Clumping clay cat litters will make it easier to remove the urine so that you can avoid the buildup of ammonia in your home.

The best clumping cat litter is made with bentonite clay, which creates a harder clump than other types of cat litter.

If you’re looking for a natural cat litter that is also highly absorbent then we recommend World’s Best Multiple Cat Lotus Blossom Scented Clumping Corn Cat Litter.

This product is made from corn, which is great at absorbing liquid without becoming smelly and it’s also low dust and biodegradable.

Is bentonite cat litter biodegradable?

Bentonite is not biodegradable.

Clumping litter may be less environmentally friendly than non-clumping because it forms lumps that can’t easily be reclaimed for reuse.

The two main types of bentonite clay are sodium and calcium.

Sodium bentonite clay expands when wet, making it a more effective absorbent than calcium bentonite clay, which does not expand even though it has superior absorption qualities.

However, only sodium bentonite can be used for cat litter because it absorbs liquids more effectively.

Bentonite clay is made from volcanic ash that gets mined from the earth and then processed into the fine powder that you see in cat litter products today.

What is the best clumping cat litter?

Our top choice is Dr. Elsey’s Ultra-Premium Clumping Clay Cat Litter because of its excellent odor control, ability to accommodate multiple cats, and value for money.

When looking for the best cat litter, you want one that’s safe, effective, and easy to maintain.


The point of this blog is to demonstrate that you do not need to resort to using clumping litter with sodium bentonite to achieve the best possible results when it comes to dealing with cat litter.

Although the bulk of this article has been about learning the pros, cons, and details concerning clumping cat litters without sodium bentonite clumping agents, I would also like to point out that there are other alternatives for eliminating litter box odors.

If you love the convenience of a clumping litter, but can’t stand the sodium bentonite, these options should be your go-to.

Still not sure? Don’t worry, try it out and let me know.

Davis Wilkins

Davis Wilkins is a dedicated cat lover, with three cats under his care. He grew up in a cat-loving family, nurturing these feline friends. As a result, he purposed to share his cat knowledge with the universe. Wilkins has been writing professionally for over four years, specializing in feline care with a keen interest in litter box care and handling. He hopes to help other feline lovers achieve their pet care goals.

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